Saving and Revising Your Mac Document

After you've penned a chapter in The Great American Novel, you need to save it. Unfortunately, after your editor has read the chapter, you'll probably have to revise it. The following sections describe how to save and revise your document.

Saving your work

You've worked so hard making your document read well and look nice that you don't want to see all your efforts go to waste. And yet, in the cruel world of computers, that's precisely what could happen if you don't take a second to save your file. And a second is all it takes to save a file — but you can lose everything just as fast.

Stable as it is, the Mac is just a machine and is not immune to power failures or human foibles. Don't let the fact that you can see something on your computer monitor fool you. If you shut down your computer, or it unexpectedly crashes (it's been known to happen even on Macs), any unsaved material will reside nowhere but in another type of memory: your own.

So where exactly do you save your work? On the Save sheet of course. It slides into view from the top of your document when you press the keyboard combo Command+S or choose File --> Save. This is your big chance to call the file something special by filling in a title where it says Save As. Go ahead and name it Dark and Stormy.

When you click the Save button, the contents of Dark and Stormy are assigned to a permanent home on your Mac's hard drive, at least until you're ready to work on the document again.

But there's more. You get to choose in which folder you stash the file. The Mac suggests the Documents folder, which seems like and often is a logical choice. But you can choose among several other possible destinations, as becomes clear when you click the arrow next to where you just named your document. You can stuff your manuscript in any existing folder or subfolder, or create one from scratch by clicking the New Folder button and giving the folder a name.

When you christened your opus Dark and Stormy, little did you know that you were actually giving it a slightly longer name: Dark and Stormy.rtf. The little suffix, or extension, stands for Rich Text Format, one of the file format types the Mac makes nice with. You could have saved the file in the Microsoft Word format, which would have given the file the .doc extension. Or, you could have chosen HTML, the language of the World Wide Web. If you want to see what extensions are tagged to your various files, deselect the Hide Extension check box.

As you work on documents, you are hereby advised to save and save often.

Making revisions

Dark and Stormy is safe and sound on your hard drive. But after downing a few chill pills overnight, you have a brand-new outlook on life in the morning. You're past your brooding period. You want to rework your inspiration's central theme and give it a new name too: Bright and Sunny.

Return to TextEdit and choose File --> Open. A dialog box appears. Scroll down in the folder where you last saved your document, and double-click its name or icon when you find it.

You are now ready to apply your changes. Because your document is only as permanent as the last time you saved it, remember to save it early and often as you make revisions. Along the way, you can rename your bestseller by using Save As and choosing a new name, though you'll still have a version under the old name.

You may be better off renaming a file by selecting it (from a Finder window or the desktop) and pressing Enter. Type the new name and press Enter again.

As always, your Mac tries to assist you in these matters. The computer makes the assumption that if you worked on a document yesterday or the day before, you might want to take another stab at it today. And to prevent you from having to strain too hard digging for a document you may want to edit, choose File --> Open Recent. Your freshest files turn up in the list. Just click the name of the document you want to revisit.

Perhaps the fastest way to find a file you want to revise is to use the Spotlight tool. Choose Spotlight by single-clicking its icon at the upper-right corner of the screen and type the name of the manuscript that requires your attention.

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